The United States of America and Czechia Sign Memorandum of Understanding To Counter Foreign State Information Manipulation

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May 30, 2024

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Czechia Jan Lipavský signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen cooperation between the United States and Czechia on countering foreign state information manipulation.

Czechia is the 17th country across Europe, Africa, East Asia, and North America to endorse the U.S. Department of State’s Framework to Counter Foreign State Information Manipulation. This coalition of countries is unified by the shared recognition that foreign state information manipulation, which includes disinformation and propaganda, is a transnational security threat to democratic societies that poisons social discourse, exacerbates societal divisions, and undermines faith in democratic institutions. Through this MOU, the United States and Czechia intend to expand information sharing, build capacity for critical counter-disinformation programming, and align government policies around the five key action areas established in the Framework.

This MOU advances the United States’ and Czechia’s shared interest in securing a free and fact-based global information ecosystem.


Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky At the Signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Countering Foreign Disinformation Between the U.S. Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic

Czernin Palace, Prague, Chechia

MODERATOR:  Mr. Minister, Mr. Secretary of State, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome you to the press remarks after bilateral meeting of Minister Lipavsky and Secretary of State Blinken, and on the occasion of signing the Memorandum of Understanding on Countering Foreign Disinformation between the U.S. Department of State and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.  First I would like to give floor to Minister Lipavsky.  Mr. Minister.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIPAVSKY:  Thank you, Secretary of State, dear Tony.  Ambassador Sabet, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a real pleasure for me to welcome the U.S. Secretary of State in Prague for the informal NATO ministerial meeting.  This is the last opportunity of NATO foreign ministers to discuss key issues of importance to the Alliance in an unscripted manner ahead of the NATO’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington, so I’m really looking forward tomorrow discussions.  And I’m glad that we have the chance to meet and discuss our bilateral strategic partnership in security, defense, and economic areas.  Our relations are excellent, as confirmed by the meeting between Prime Minister Fiala and President Biden in the White House.

Today, obviously, Ukraine is very high on our agenda.  Ukraines are bravely defending their homeland against Russia’s daily brutal assaults, and we have to do everything in our power to assist them.  They need our weapons and they need them fast.  This is where the Czech initiative comes in, but definitely more needs to be done.  Europe is ready to support Ukraine, whatever it takes, and also happy for all the support the United States is providing following the recent decision on the supplemental aid package in Congress.  And I always say and I will say it:  We need a strategy to contain Russia.  We need a strategy to stop Russian imperialistic ambition at Ukraine’s border.

During our discussion with Secretary Blinken, we also shared our concerns about reports of increasing exports from China for Russia’s military industrial complex, which is key for sustaining Russia’s brutal campaign against Ukraine; (inaudible) bilateral cooperation in energy domain, where we already enjoy very fruitful collaboration on a number of project, and Czechia, obviously, attach great importance to continued imports of American LNG to Europe.  And in addition, our discussion focused on evolving security situation in the Middle East and in Indo-Pacific.

We will now proceed to the other important part of our meeting, and that is the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Countering Foreign Disinformation.  Signing the MOU today presents a clear signal that our countries see foreign information manipulation and interference as a threat.  Malign foreign actors wish to undermine trust in democratic institutions, and we are facing a confrontation between democracies and autocracies.  Our democracy is valuable.  Though both Czechia and the United States have the respective experience with foreign interference, the Kremlin is targeting democracies all around the world with cyber warfare, propaganda, and influence operations, and these dangers simply cannot be underestimated anymore.

It was recently exposed here in Czechia and by our security system a operation of Voice of Europe which was controlled directly from the Kremlin.  The restrictive measures against these Kremlin puppets are yet another example of the active steps Czechia is taking against Russia’s influence operations, and indecisive response only further encourages Russia, so we have to be decisive.  And I’m glad that we will – are now in – joining force with the U.S. State Department.  So again, these threats, we must stand firmly together, because together we are stronger.  Thank you, Tony.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, Mr. Minister, Jan, my friend, thank you.  Thank you first of all to Czechia for hosting all of the NATO foreign ministers just in advance of the NATO Summit.  This is a critical meeting for us to finalize plans for the summit, finalize the substance for the summit, and so I couldn’t be more grateful to you, to the entire Czech Government for bringing us together here in this magnificent city.

But I think it’s also both in symbolic ways and very substantive ways illustrative of something else.  We celebrated the 25th anniversary of Czech Republic’s accession to NATO, and we see in very practical, very real terms how meaningful that’s been not only to Czechia but also to NATO, to all of the countries concerned, as well as NATO’s partners and friends, because Czechia’s leadership is really quite extraordinary.

We see that in Ukraine in everything that Czechia has done to support Ukraine faced with this ongoing Russian aggression: training thousands of Ukrainian forces; sending hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment to Ukraine and authorizing the transfer of more than $6 billion worth of equipment; refurbishing Soviet legacy weapon systems that are being used by Ukraine, again, to defend against the Russian aggression – we saw some of those earlier today – and now, of course, dedicating more than 2 percent of its budget to – GDP to its defense budget, again leading in NATO on that; and our own partnership with the F-35s, helicopters, all of this mutually beneficial to both of our countries – good jobs in the Czech Republic, good jobs in the United States as a result of that.

But what it underscores as well is the value that both of our countries attach to collective self-defense, because what we know is this:  We’re not only stronger, we’re more likely to prevent, to deter aggression when we’re united, when we’re working together.  And the foundational premise of our Alliance – that an attack on one is an attack on all – sends the most powerful message to would-be aggressors that if they attack one of us, they have to take on all of us.  And that is actually the strongest way, the most effective way to prevent aggression in the first place.  Czechia, through its actions, through its leadership, is really giving life and substance to the Alliance, to the meaning of collective defense, and I think that sends a very powerful message in Europe and in fact beyond.

As Jan mentioned, we’ll also be signing this memorandum between us.  It’s the 17th such memorandum of understanding that we’ve signed with partner countries on combating misinformation and disinformation, and this also could not be more critical or more timely, because we know that a major front in the competition that we have, the adversarial relationship that we have – notably with Russia – is an information front.  And through this memorandum of understanding, through the framework that we’ve established, we have partnerships with countries to work together to help develop the capacity, to develop the technical means, to develop the human resources, to develop the organizational structures and institutions, to develop the collaboration, necessarily, to effectively deal with misinformation and disinformation, which is a poison being injected into our democracies by our adversaries.  The more we’re able to do together, both between our countries but also with other countries, the more effective we’re going to be in exposing it and dealing with it, and that’s what this memorandum of understanding is all about.

So I couldn’t be more pleased, Jan, to be here with you, both on a bilateral basis, on an Alliance basis, and most importantly on a values basis, because our countries share those values.  We’re committed to defend them and we’re committed to do that together.  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary of State.  Now follows the act of signing the memorandum of understanding.

(The memorandum was signed.)

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